Even for programmers and developers who have more of a technical appreciation for how web applications handle the big data they store and manipulate behind the scenes, it’s very easy to take things for granted when you’re going about your business of logging in to your favourite social network or any other membership site you use regularly. It’s only once one actually stops to really think about what is being achieved when you realise that these machines we take for granted actually pack some serious power.
There’s no doubt about just how much the microprocessor has revolutionised computing, but I’m willing to bet even the most visionary of mere programmers/developers couldn’t have fathomed that such processing power would be available over the internet. Sure, it really only is localised computing power which is accessible through Internet Protocol connectivity, but the aggregate effect is what’s important and what’s impressive about it – what you’re effectively able to do with this connectible processing power!
Now for those of you who may not have the slightest idea about databases like MySQL and the likes, let’s take a peek behind the scenes in any case and hopefully take a moment to appreciate the power we effectively have in our hands each time we use our connected devices to access the world’s most-loved web applications.
Consider the likes of Facebook, a social networking platform which has long since announced surpassing the magic 1 billion mark by way of active users. What exactly happens when you enter your email address along with your password, trying to log in to your account? Lightning-fast magic behind the scenes – that’s what happens!
Okay, I’m sure any programmers reading this will agree with me that it’s perhaps a lot more complex than this, considering aspects such as security and protection against the likes of bots (click here to know what are bots) and hacking attacks, but basically this is what happens:
The username (i.e. your email address entered) is searched against all the records in the database and then if it finds a match it then does the same with the password, this time to see if the password you input matches with the one on the records as well as the corresponding email. If there are no such matches then an error message is thrown up which will likely prompt you to try and enter your details correctly, or if your records don’t exist at all on the mega database, the message will prompt you to perhaps sign up to the platform in question.
The mind-blowing bit is that it takes less than a second for the system to run through all the records and check for matches, so when you consider that there are over a billion users on some platforms it puts things into perspective as to the sheer power, doesn’t it?
So next time you routinely check your Euro lottery results, log in to your favourite social media platform or sign in to your public email client, take a moment to appreciate just what goes into making all of those features you enjoy possible.